PARIS, April 4 Far-right National Front leader
Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from
offering special lunches to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won
in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to
France's secular values.
France's republic has a strict secular tradition enforceable
by law, but faith-related demands have risen in recent years,
especially from the country's five-million-strong Muslim
minority, the largest in Europe.
"We will not accept any religious demands in school menus,"
Le Pen told RTL radio. "There is no reason for religion to enter
the public sphere, that's the law."
The anti-immigrant National Front has consistently bemoaned
the rising influence of Islam in French pubic life.
France has seen periodic controversies over schools that
substitute beef or chicken for pork from menus to cater to
Muslim children. Some of the FN's new mayors have complained
there are too many halal shops in their towns.
The party won control of 11 town halls and a large district
in the port city of Marseille in municipal elections on Sunday,
more than double its record from the 1990s.
Le Pen hailed the victory as showing the party had finally
established itself as France's third political force behind
ruling Socialists and mainstream conservatives, and predicts a
strong showing in May's European Parliament elections.
(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; editing by Mark John)